Brussels, 27 May 2008
According to European Commissioner for Science and Research, Janez Potočnik, "we need to free the potential of our excellent researchers if we are to achieve Europe's wider Lisbon agenda ambitions and make the European Research Area a reality. Too many of them have to wait too long for the chance to become independent researchers in their own right due to outdated national legislation and practices. Our vision is of a "fifth freedom"– the freedom of knowledge, where students, scientists, and academics can take advantage of a healthy European labour market and find opportunities in different institutions, sectors and countries at all stages of their careers. What is at stake is whether Europe can remain and develop as a world-class location for R&D in the long term."
In many Member States, there is still limited competition-based recruitment in the public sector. Short-term contracts are the norm for young researchers and advancement can often be based on seniority not performance. Many researchers are also trained in a traditional academic way which does not equip them for the needs of the modern knowledge economy where connections between industry and public research institutions are increasingly important. Today's researchers may need to manage intellectual property, conduct multi-disciplinary projects or start up their own company.
It is proposed that the partnership should make a commitment to achieving by the end of 2010 rapid, measurable progress to:
Coordinated action in these areas between the Commission and the Member States, alongside renewed efforts on existing initiatives such as the European Charter for Researchers and Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers, would help to create a genuine European labour market for researchers. This will balance the supply and demand for researchers, boost productivity growth through better job matching, increase knowledge transfer and facilitate the development of centres of excellence throughout the EU. It will also create better international connections for collaborative research and the economic exploitation of research results, and help to create more attractive conditions for industrial investment in research.
At the end of the first stage of the partnership in 2010 an overall evaluation of the situation and results from actions by the partnership will be made and the need for further EU action to address specific outstanding issues will be considered.
The Communication is one of five policy initiatives planned by the Commission to follow up the 2007 Green Paper "The European Research Area: New Perspectives". The results of the public consultation following the Green Paper suggested that a single labour market for researchers should be amongst the top priorities for action at EU level.
Details of all of the above are available in MEMO/08/343
Link to the full text of the Communication: http://ec.europa.eu/research/press/2008/pdf/com_2008_31_1_en.pdf
See also our press release published on 24 April 2008 on the European Research Area and public consultation: IP/08/637